Monday, April 30, 2012

Inquisition Monday: the Second

Continuing from last week, Betttina asked, "how are you a different mom to DS than DD? Not a different mom b/c kids are different genders but different b/c you have more experience now as a mother than the 1st time?"

On one hand, I'm not sure. I did a lot of the same things: breastfeeding, bedsharing, lassez-faire ECing. The "gentle" parenting part is pretty much the same. But I've done different things because they are different people and also, the family is now different.

Because they are different people:

I do a lot more intervention on physical boundaries. Margaret never went out into the street. Ever. I don't remember teaching her not to, she just would stop. Isaac doesn't get that as much, so there is a little more chasing and guiding him back. He's "getting" it now, but a few months ago, he wasn't.

I also do a lot more free range parenting. Margaret was (and still is) a very cautious person. At Isaac's age, she wouldn't step down from a curb to the street without sitting down and scooting off it. Isaac challenges his physical boundaries more. I don't think you could have ever described me as a "helicopter" parent with Margaret because I knew she was cautious and careful, but I did have to be more aware when she tried new things. If it was too scary, she would freeze up and then risk hurting herself. For example, last week at the park, Isaac went down a huge fast cement slide by himself. I think that if Margaret had wanted to go down that particular slide at his age, I would have taken her on my lap because I knew once she got going, she'd panic and freeze up- and lose control of her speed/balance and get hurt. Isaac however, does not panic so much. Yes, he froze a little, but he was able to control his speed and direction well. I watched him go down, but I wasn't right there with him like I would have been with Margaret.

I let Isaac help out around the house more than I did Margaret. I'm not sure if it's his age or his personality, but Isaac is huge into helping. With everything. Unloading the dishwasher, gardening, laundry, sweeping. He wants to be involved in everything.

Because the family is different:

Having a four year old in the family means we do a lot more outings. When Margaret was little, I rarely took her out. That zoo trip last week? It was because Margaret likes outings, not because I think Isaac needs them. When Margaret was Isaac's age, she had regular naps. Now, because I need to get Margaret out, Isaac doesn't get regular naps. He needs them: 3 hours in the afternoon is important, but it doesn't always happen because we are out more.

Also, having to stretch myself over two children means I do a lot more free range parenting. When we're out, not only am I required to give less time to each while monitoring the safety two children, but I'm burned out more often. So at the park, I try to catch up on my "me" time: knitting, chatting, etc. Last week, Margaret came to me asking if she could go with one of the moms and some kids to the rose garden across the street. In the past, I would have wanted to go with her, but instead I let her go off and let Isaac go off doing whatever he was doing (playing with a soccer ball) while I sat under a tree and knit.

I think I wear Isaac less than I did with Margaret. Margaret was in the mei tai all the way up until I gave birth to Isaac. While Isaac loves the mei tai and I wear him often, I do let him do a lot of walking because he likes to hold hands with Margaret and play with her. I also use the stroller a lot more because I can't wear both kids if they need breaks on walks.

Another thing that was different, and I'm not sure why, is how much I held Isaac as a baby. I almost never put Margaret down. I spent my days watching movies (and all the audio commentaries) because if Margaret fell asleep on my lap, I was afraid to get up- even to change the DVD disc- and wake her. So lots of sitting, lots of lap time. On the other hand, even just 3 hours after having Isaac, I was totally fine with putting him down and doing something else. I suppose you could say that not wanting to hold him was a hormonal thing (depression? anxiety?) but I don't think it's typical for those postpartum mental illnesses to set in only 3 hours into the baby's life. But I just didn't want to hold him. Or anyone at that time. I think I was touched out.

I'm better at buying snacks. With Margaret I never bought snacks- it never crossed my mind! I'm still not a huge snack-buyer but it does happen more often. I guess with 2 kids, I see it as "worth it" more.

Because our location/life situation is different:

Being in the Bay Area without snow and having access to a yard means that the kids both get more outside time. And whether it's laziness or that my brain is dead, I forget their hats a lot and they also get more sun. The places we frequent are much closer to our hone and I now own a bike, so that's another reason for the more outings.

Moving to California also means we get a babysitter more often. When we wanted to go out with Margaret, it wasn't a big deal to bring her along on dates. We now find ourselves getting a babysitter every 2 or 3 months. And that's mostly due to McKay working for Pixar. Pixar hosts a lot of events for employees and their "plus one." There are movie showings (we saw John Carter at Pixar), in-house comedy troops, Wrap Parties, holiday parties, and other events. Babysitters are really expensive out here and so we take advantage of all the free events through McKay's work. Instead of having to pay for a movie AND a sitter, we only have to pay for a sitter. However, I think it's not very good for Isaac. Margaret has always been pretty accepting of alternate care providers, but there has not been a time we've gotten a babysitter that Isaac hasn't cried throughout the entire evening- and sometimes to the point of making himself throw up. I feel bad about it, so it's not a regular occurrence, and we try as much as possible to make it more manageable. For last year's wrap party, we came home between the movie and the party to nurse the kids to sleep. Wrap party nights are long (5-6 hours) and Isaac was not even a year old, so I wanted to make sure he was able to go to sleep peacefully. If we didn't have free dates through Pixar, we probably wouldn't go on any and this whole babysitter issue would be null.


This is silly, but I didn't want to use the word "no" with Margaret, so I used "cease" instead. I thought that if we used "cease" when she became a defiant two- or three- year old, it would break up tension to hear a kid say, "Cease, Mommy!" And we did that for a long time. But now we do use the word "no" when we need to. I probably need to cut back on our usage of "no."

And once again, I can't limit my blog posts and it's gotten wordy. Sorry about that! I'm sure I parent differently, but I think I'll need a little more time to really see more differences. Life is just different in California and with two kids.


  1. This is very interesting. I'm sure I'll see even more differences as Alrik gets older, but I can already see plenty of ways I've parented them differently as babies. Because, as you say, they're different personalities, and I now have two children — so, yeah, things change! I definitely find us putting Alrik down on the floor more, and handing him off to others more (like letting his dad parent him a lot more, even to sleep). Part of that is just because, unlike Mikko, Alrik actually enjoys crawling around on his own for longer than a couple minutes!

  2. This is only related to one little comment from the blog, but I read that you're not supposed to ride down slides with your child on your lap because their leg can get caught and the weight of the adult body pushes on forward and breaks their leg. It's apparently fairly common. Just thought you should know. :-)


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